Interview with Erik Nylen, Secretary General of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA)

JT 15:39:31 21-08-2018
E. Nylen - "Journalism today and tomorrow"

Interview with Erik Nylen, Secretary General of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA)

BTA: What are EANA's aims and activities today?

Erik Nylen: EANA's aim is mainly to defend and finance quality news journalism, and we do whatever we can do. We exchange information between the member agencies and we lobby versus political powers for more copyright, for instance, for news agencies.

BTA: How do you appreciate the partnership among the news agencies that are members of EANA?

Erik Nylen: We appreciate it very highly, of course. I would say that EANA's strength comes mainly from the brand names of its member agencies. For instance, in Bulgaria everybody knows BTA, but no one really knows about the European Alliance of News Agencies. So, our power is in the agencies standing behind EANA.

BTA: As EANA's Secretary General, how do you estimate the professional level of journalism today?

Erik Nylen: I think journalism is developing; there are lots of ambitious developments concerning journalism. I don't see a major problem with that. I think the main challenge is how to finance quality news journalism in a sustainable way.

BTA: Which are the major obstacles to the news agencies today?

Erik Nylen: In some countries, there's a need to defend the right to produce quality news journalism, and as I just mentioned the challenge is to find sustainable ways of financing quality news journalism. We see a fragmentation on the media markets with the traditional media like newspapers and broadcasters, but we also see an increasing consumption of news online and on social media. This means that we have, from a financial point of view, fragmented media markets. So, there are a lot of ongoing discussions on how to finance news journalism in a long-term perspective. That is the current background. Like I mentioned before, copyright is another issue: we can see companies like Google and Facebook developing very profitable businesses, using content from news agencies or other publishers, but without paying for it. This is something that has to change. And that is what we are working for very strongly right now. There is an upcoming meeting at the European Parliament in September where the Parliament in session will discuss proposals from its own legal committee on how to make search engines and aggregate this pay for using publishers' content.

BTA: But so far, there isn't a lasting institutional decision, or is there?

Erik Nylen: No, there isn't a decision yet. There was a proposal from the legal committee, it was presented a month ago, and the Parliament in session will discuss this proposal in mid September. We do hope the Parliament will approve this proposal from its own legal committee, as this would be a step in the right direction.

BTA: Which journalistic standards are threatened by the development of new technologies today?

Erik Nylen: I don't think there's a threat. Technology development means there have never been more platforms where people can read news, check what is happening in the world, and that is a positive development. The problem, like I mentioned before, is the fragmentation of the media markets also means that we have to find new ways to make these new platforms pay for using content from news agencies and other publishers.

BTA: What are your observations: doo EANA member agencies manage to strike between professional information, PR journalism and lobby propaganda?

Erik Nylen: It is my absolute conviction that all the member agencies do their utmost to handle this situation. Of course, we are increasingly worried, reading about the ambition to manipulate information online, as we have seen examples of the so-called fake news: it's maybe a bit vulgar way of describing this information that is available online. This is a challenge for all media, and it is of course a challenge for news agencies. To not have incorrect information is vital. People must trust the news from the news agencies. We must produce reliable, independent news reporting.

BTA: How do you see the future of news agencies?

Erik Nylen: Like I said, there have never been more platforms for news with the development of information technologies, so I think that news agencies absolutely have a strong position for the future. We've always been in the forefront in producing quality news content, and we will see to that we stay there. /Interview - Zlatna Kostova/ 31.07.2018